Sunday, August 31, 2014


If your host has arranged a radio or TV
interview for you, be sure to promote the
upcoming event where you will be speaking for them.


One downside in belonging to a critique group
is our tendency to see someone else’s success in
a certain genre and think maybe we should try it
too—seeking that illusive success for ourselves.


 I’ve been thinking about time management and organization lately--after a discussion on the topic with some of my writing friends. It came up not because I’m disorganized—I’m actually known for being quite organized—but because my to-do list has grown much too long. Something I’m sure happens to all of us from time to time. I had to laugh recently when I ran across an item in a women’s magazine that indicated that there shouldn’t be more than 7 things on your to-do list for any one day. Otherwise you would suffer from brain overload.

The root problem for most of us is that we are often reluctant to say No when being offered the opportunity to fulfill some job—especially if it’s at church or in another Christian organization. Recently I ran across a note I’d taken in a writing class. The teacher made this comment: “When someone asks me to do something, I ask them if there is anyone else who could do the job as well or better than I could. If so, tell them to ask that person. If they can’t find or recruit that other person, then come back and I will do it.”

One of the keys to not having too much to do is giving up those jobs that someone else has been called to do.


Q. I’ve been writing on and off for years but never seem to get over the hump of actually getting anything published. Now I’ve decided I’m going to make a real effort to become a selling writer. Do you have any tips that will help me achieve success?

A. The first thing you’ll need to do is set aside specific times to write. If you wait until you have time, it won’t happen. That means a number of things. You will need to determine where writing is going to fall in your life. It certainly does not have to be a full-time pursuit, but you do need to set aside specific blocks of time to dedicate to your writing and related activities. Mark those dates on your calendar, and honor them as you would any other appointment.

All this means that in order to have sufficient time for writing, you are going to have to give up something you are already doing. If God is calling you to write, then He may not be calling you to do some of the other activities that have taken over your time.

It will also help if you have a place set up where you can do your writing. Although you may work on a laptop—meaning you can write anywhere—it helps to have somewhere to go where you can move out of a casual setting to one where you are motivated to get down to serious writing. This will also be the place where you keep your market guide, style book, reference books, and other tools of the trade. Make it a place you enjoy being in, not one you dread to enter. Going to your special work place also serves as a signal to family members that you don’t want to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.

Speaking of tools of the trade, it is now essential that you work on a computer. I don’t believe any periodicals or publishers will now accept hard copies of your manuscripts unless you have an electronic version as well. If you aren’t able to work on a computer, then you will likely have to hire someone to type your manuscripts into a computer, which may cost more than you’ll make on an article or short story.

The next step will be to determine what it is you are going to write. If you write nonfiction, what topics interest you and are you qualified to write about? If fiction, what genre or genres? Whatever you decide to write, it is important that you write enough of one topic or type of writing that editors and readers begin to recognize you as someone who is well qualified to write that kind of material. Building that kind of reputation leads to assignments from editors.

Once you determine what you want to write and who your potential audience will be, it’s time to start identifying which periodicals will be interested in what you have to offer. If you were planning to start with a nonfiction book, don’t. It is critical that you build a reputation in your field by writing regularly for the publications interested in your topic. An editor is going to expect you to have that body of work as preparation for doing your book.

However, if you are writing fiction, periodical credits are not that important although you could start with short stories. Use the Christian Writers’ Market Guide ( to identify potential markets, get their guidelines and sample copies, and spend time reading and studying them to determine how well your articles might fit there. This step is critical. Don’t skip it.

In order to stay on track, it will be important to set goals for your writing output. Although it’s interesting to see what other writers are doing in the goal department, it’s important that you set your goals based on the time you have allotted, the type of writing you are doing, and the amount of time needed for research or interviews. Stay realistic, and only up the goals when you feel certain you can meet higher ones. Mark each goal on your calendar, and work diligently to meet each one.

These are only preliminary steps. I’ll continue with additional tips tomorrow.


How to Craft Memoirs That Get Published
with Victoria Marini

Have Your Query Letter AND 1,500 Words Critiqued!

Your Price: $89.99
Session Date: September 4, 2014
Starting Time: 1:00pm Eastern
Duration: 90 minutes
Price: $89.99
About the critique:

All registrants are invited to submit a query letter and sample material (1,500 words). All submitted queries and samples will receive a written critique by Victoria Marini. Victoria reserves the right to request more writing from attendees by e-mail following the event, if she deems the writing excellent.

Please Note: Even if you can't attend the live webinar, registering for this live version will enable you to receive the On Demand webinar and a personal critique of your material. Purchasing the On Demand version after the live event will not include a critique.
About the webinar:

The memoir is one of the most sought-after genres in the market today, but it can also be the most difficult to write. Many authors struggle with developing a memoir that stands out in the crowded field of competition.

Victoria Marini is a literary agent with the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency who has worked on and represented several memoirs over the past five years. She'll share insight into what makes readers engage in a memoir and what makes them stop reading.

Learn how to identify and develop the premise of your memoir, get tips on how to translate that idea from inception to execution, and discover common mistakes authors make when writing a memoir.
What you'll learn:

How to identify and focus on the premise of your memoir
How to construct an emotional and structural "arc" for your memoir
The importance of goals and obstacles in memoir-writing
How to translate memory into story
How to develop yourself as an active narrator
Tips to make your memoir stand out from others
Ways to achieve balance between summary and dramatization in your memoir
Common pitfalls to avoid

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Condensing almost always makes your speech
tighter, crisper, and easier to understand.


If you query more than one agent at a time,
you may get more than one positive response.
Talk to those interested and see which one seems
most experienced and most enthusiastic about your work.


. . . for those times when you need a kick in the pants to get writing.

“Pressure is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it's because you've started to think of failure.”


I had an interesting phone call recently from a would-be writer who had some questions about the market for his writing. When he mentioned a publisher's phone number that was no longer working, I asked if he had checked their Website to see if they had a new one listed. It was then he let me know in no uncertain terms that although he had several computers that could be connected to the Internet—none of them were. He made it clear he wanted nothing to do with e-mail or the Internet. His next statement being: “If a publisher doesn’t have a phone number I can call, they’re not going to get my book.”

I’m sharing this story because it is just that attitude that will likely prevent this gentleman from ever getting published. He has put his publishing future in jeopardy in a number of ways. First, there are very few publishers today who will accept a phone call from an unknown author. Next, the majority of publishers prefer an e-mail contact initially and will also expect to be able to correspond with an author by e-mail once the manuscript is accepted.

In today’s publishing world, it is the authors who know the publisher’s preferences—something they learn from the market guide or their guidelines—and follow them exactly who are going to be noticed and considered for those open magazine slots or the few publishing contracts being offered. Publishers rule.


Friday, August 29, 2014


If you hear people pronouncing a word differently
that you pronounce it, check it out to determine
who is right. If you're pronouncing it wrong,
work at correcting it in your vocabulary.


To find a reputable agent, talk to successful authors about who represents them.
This is a small industry so the agents with the best reputations are well known.


The writing of a mystery story is more of a sport than a fine art. It is a game between the writer and the reader. If, once in a while, a really fine book comes out of this contest, that is good; but the game's the thing. If, on page 4, the reader knows that the soda cracker is spread with butter mixed with arsenic, and later on this is proven to be true, then the reader has won the game. If, however, when the reader finishes the book, he says, 'I didn't get it—all the clues were there, plain as who killed Cock-Robin, but I didn't get it,' then the author has won the game. The author has to play fair though. He has to arrange his clues in an orderly manner, so that the reader can see them if he looks hard enough.” - Polly Simpson Macmanus


Q – Is it common for a writer to stick with nonfiction or fiction, or do they cross over to the other? And if it's OK to cross over, how would you know when to do that?

A – The answer to that question probably depends on where you are in your writing career. One of the keys to success in writing is to start building a reputation as a writer who does a certain kind of writing—especially if you write nonfiction. You want editors to recognize you as someone who can handle certain topics, or types of writing—such as feature articles, how-to pieces, devotionals, inspirational material, family or marriage topics, or whatever. Once that reputation takes root, editors will often come to you with assignments. For that reason, at the start of your writing career, you will want to give some serious thought as to which path you will follow. Jumping around too much in your choice of topic or type of writing defeats that goal.

If you are a fiction writer, doing short fiction, you will want to write for a specific age group or particular genre to gain recognition in that arena. If you are writing novels, you will likely need to stick with one genre or target audience initially. You could run into a problem if you switch from writing children's novels to adult novels, or visa versa. You never want to confuse your target audience.

I offer that as background to answer your question about switching between fiction and nonfiction. If you are well established in your writing career, being known for writing a certain type or genre, switching to the other side can create problems for your readers. It is similar to what happens when you switch from one target audience to another—age wise. If you have always written children's novels, and suddenly switch to adult, readers may buy your adult book for their child—thinking it is a children's novel.

So, if you want to make a switch it's often a good idea to create a pen name for the new genre. That way you make a smooth transition with no confusion. Of course, there are writers who do both successfully For example, Debbie Macomber has written general market fiction, Christian fiction, devotional and inspirational nonfiction, and as I recall she has a knitting book because a knitting store plays a part in her fiction. A situation like hers is an exception because she is so well known and it's part of a plan to continually feed her readership. She's also a great marketer who always makes her readers aware of what books are coming out next.

So, if you want to make the switch, don't do it until you are well-established. You will also want to seek the advice of your agent or publisher who can help you make that decision as part of an overall plan to expand your career.


“Never be satisfied with what you achieve, because it all pales in comparison with what you are capable of doing in the future.” - Rabbi Nochem Kaplan


Lately I’ve been thinking about rejection—not that I’m feeling rejected—but I’ve been noticing how different people react to rejection. It seems the longer we are writers the better we tolerate it. Beginning writers often find it difficult if not impossible to deal with. I’ve often seen a single rejection or negative comment send a manuscript into a drawer never to be seen again.

I am reminded of an experience I had several years ago when I spoke at a large writers’ conference. A writing buddy of mine (more experienced at speaking than I was at the time) was also a speaker at that conference. After the conference, they sent each speaker a list of comments about their talk that came in on the evaluation forms. When mine arrived, I read through it and highlighted all the negative comments. A few days later my friend sent me a copy of his comments sheet. I had to laugh when I realized that on his sheet he had highlighted only the positive comments.

One thing we all eventually learn as writers and speakers is that not everyone is going to like what you write or say. One editor may reject a piece with negative feedback, and the next editor will accept it with enthusiastic praise. My father had a plaque over his desk at work that said: “You can please some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” A good mantra for the writer or speaker.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


When being interviewed on radio or TV,
you may need to take control of the interview
to convey whatever message is important to you.


Most agents today will offer you a contract
if you decide to work together.
That contract will usually outline what you can
expect from the agent and what is expected of you.


It's like making a movie. All sorts of accidental things will happen after you’ve set up the cameras.
 So you get lucky. Something will happen at the edge of the set and perhaps you start to go with that;
you get some footage of that. You come into it accidentally. You set the story in motion and as you're
watching this thing begin, all these opportunities will show up. So, in order to exploit one thing or
another, you may have to do research. You may have to find out more about Chinese immigrants, or
you may have to find out about Halley's Comet, or whatever, where you didn't realize that you were
going to have Chinese or Halley's Comet in the story. So you do research on that, and it implies more,
and the deeper you get into the story, the more it implies, the more suggestions it makes on the
plot. Toward the end, the ending becomes inevitable." - Kurt Vonnegut


Have You Successfully Marketed Your Self-Published Book? Then WD Wants to Hear From You!

Calling all self-published / independent book & e-book authors: Tell us about the promotional strategies that worked for you, and you and your book(s) could get even more visibility in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

We’re looking for the inside stories from indie authors who’ve developed successful strategies for marketing their own books. If you credit your self-made promotional strategy for your book’s popularity, profitability or sales, we’d love to hear the details of what you did, how you did it, and what you’ve learned. Your insights—alongside your bio and information about your book—could appear in the pages of Writer’s Digest magazine.

To be considered for a spotlight in WD, simply answer the questions here. Read more ...


Sign up for a digital subscription to Writer's Digest and you'll get a PDF of each issue delivered directly to your email 8 times a year, offering fully searchable text, live links to tools and websites, go-anywhere convenience and earlier delivery than the print version.
PLUS, at only $9.96, you'll SAVE a whopping 79% OFF the newsstand price. Order now and get a great deal, added convenience-and you'll save a few trees in the process.


As Sony Picture’s new film, The Remaining, prepares to open in theaters nationwide Sept. 5, director Casey La Scalia (of Donnie Darko and A Walk to Remember fame) knew the dangers of producing a Christian “horror film” from the start. “I didn’t know if this could work. You’re talking about avid church-goers going to see Paranormal Activity. How do you get them to go?”

But The Remaining really isn’t in the same class as a straight-up horror film, he says. “It’s hard to pigeonhole this as a horror movie. It’s a supernatural action film, because it’s about the end of the world. There isn’t gratuitous violence and slasher stuff. Calling it a horror movie does it a disservice.”

For La Scala, who grew up in and was confirmed in the Lutheran church, sermons based on Revelation or about the rapture were his kind of creepy, so he used the New Testament as a template and a timeline to write, produce, and direct his take on the end of the world. The importance on biblical accuracy was tantamount, and the response from preview screenings was extremely positive.
“It’s really a ‘I need to find faith in God now and love the people I am surrounded by because tomorrow it could end’ movie. That’s really the message.”

And the message doesn’t end with the movie. Top horror artist Kyle Hotz is illustrating the graphic novel adaptation of The Remaining, set for a mid-August release from Kingstone Comics at retail and on all digital platforms. Sony is also partnering with Tyndale House Publishers on the September publication of The Remaining novelization by critically acclaimed novelist Travis Thrasher.
Read the full interview with Casey La Scalia in the October issue of CBA Retailers+Resources, available mid-September.


Putting the Social Back in Social Media

Presented by Suzanne Kuhn

Tuesday, September 2
8:00 to 9:00 p.m., Eastern Time



By having a specific strategy, you can keep social media manageable, while increasing your reach.

Hear proven tips for stress-free social media. Learn how to focus on engagement, build true fans and readers, and reach your target audience.

Suzanne Kuhn serves as Director of Coaching under SuzyQ, a partner of BelieversPress. With more than 25 years in book retailing and event sales, Suzanne’s experience gives her an edge when coaching authors, facilitating tours, and ensuring more successful and profitable events.

Register Now


Understanding and Selling E-books

Presented by Andrew MacKay
Thursday, September 11
8:00 to 9:00 p.m., Eastern Time

E-books are all the rage. Every author owes it to themselves to develop a working knowledge of e-book publishing and distribution. In this session, learn about:
● E-book file formats
● Design challenges and best practices
● Distribution options
● How to build a strategy based on your audience
● The role of free in e-book strategy

Whether you’re an expert or newbie, you’ll receive important information to plan your e-book publishing strategy.

Andrew Mackay serves as Publishing Consultant for Believers Press. He has worked in and around publishing for more than ten years, mostly with independent Christian authors. He loves books and loves connecting with authors to help them create publishing strategies that work.

Register Now

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Avoid filling your speech with “uhs.”
 It is an annoying habit that needs to
eliminated all together.
The same for “you know.”


Although agents are always busy working
to sell your book and others, they should not
be ignoring your reasonable inquiries about
what’s happening with your book.


Q. I am starting to have more success with my writing and am concerned about what I need to do—tax-wise or business-wise—to call my writing a business. At what point is my writing actually considered a business?

A. You may be too late for this year, but you can make plans to set up for business starting in January, and begin keeping records the IRS requires. Here are a few of the things you need to know to get started:

The IRS will want to know if you are writing as a hobby or you consider your writing a business—the difference being that you are either doing it for fun or you have a profit motive. If you are doing it as a hobby, you can deduct the expenses associated with your writing but only up to the amount you actually made during the year.

If you consider it a business, you can deduct most or all of your expenses, even in excess of your income; but the IRS expects you to make a profit three out of the first five years. For that reason, you need to plan your switch to the profit motive when it looks like that is likely to happen. However, you can get around that three-year requirement if you can prove you have tried hard to make a profit and have the evidence to prove it. Such evidence would include keeping detailed financial records with receipts, submitting regularly, and having the rejection slips to prove your submissions.

Learn what the IRS considers legitimate deductions. These include such things as postage, office supplies, business travel, conference fees, and office equipment. For some of the trickier deductions, these free IRS publications help you make those calculations: Publication 535, Business Expenses; Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses; and Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home.

Some possible deductions have certain limitations on them, so checking out these IRS publications is important. For example, some of the larger deductions are allowed only if you make enough income to cover them. As a self-employed writer, you may also be eligible to deduct a part of your health insurance costs, as long as you are not eligible for health coverage through your regular employer or that of your spouse.

One of the more difficult deductions to claim is a home office. This is one you will have to hold off on until your business is well underway, and then you will need to carefully check out the guidelines and restrictions for making such a deduction.

All of the above are federal laws. State and local laws vary from state to state, so check the laws for your city and state. Some states will require a business license, payment of state taxes, etc.

By the time your business is in full swing and you are making significant income, you may want to hire an accountant to do your tax returns. Just keep in mind that every accountant may not be familiar with the tax laws as they relate to writing, so it helps if you can find one who does tax returns for other writers.
**If you have a question, send it to


I'm convinced that all writers are optimists whether they concede the point or not . . . . How
 otherwise could any human being sit down to a pile of blank sheets and decide to write, say two-
hundred thousand words on any given theme?” - Thomas Costain


As writers, dealing with and meeting deadlines is just part of the business. But I’m afraid that often we tend to treat them too casually. In reality, we should regard those deadlines as a commitment.

Over the years I’ve only missed a few deadlines—and always because of circumstances beyond my control. The first one was a book deadline that coincided with my mother’s death. Although I knew there was a good reason for missing the deadline—and that my editor would surely understand—I also knew that I had a responsibility to inform my editor as soon as I knew I was going to miss it. It’s best not to wait until the deadline is upon you, or already past, which puts editors in a position where they have to scramble to make the resulting adjustments.

Another time deadlines were in jeopardy was when my husband fell off a two-story roof and came away with 9 rib fractures, 6 pelvic fractures, and a broken shoulder. Although being with him in the hospital, recovery center, and caring for his needs during the next several weeks meant I was going to be hard pressed to meet upcoming deadlines, I never totally abandoned my concern for meeting them as soon as it was at all possible. I felt strongly the responsibility to meet that commitment and let my editor know I would likely be late—but asking when the latest I could submit and still not put her behind schedule.

Both of the above instances of being late with deadlines are extreme, but generally we should have no excuses for not meeting our deadlines. The wheels of publication—both with books and periodicals—run like a train. If even one writer misses a deadline it can throw the whole train off the tracks. With magazines it may mean that the publication will have to substitute another piece for the one you didn’t produce in time—and may give the editor pause before giving you another assignment. With books, it is even more serious. Because all the steps of the publishing process are based on you meeting your deadline, being late often means that your project goes to the end of the line (often meaning they won’t meet your projected publication date), and you may even lose the interest and attention of the editor who has championed your book from the beginning. The writers who don’t pay close attention to deadlines are destined to lose the interest and respect of their editors. And editors are never unhappy if you're early.


One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business,
when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items
 on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate
which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that,
we are too busy.” - Elisabeth Elliot


Hosted at Malvern Retreat House with Popular Speakers
Contact: Brian Gail, 484-321-2534

MALVERN, Penn., Aug. 27, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- All Catholic men and women who enjoy writing, whether it be professionally or leisurely, are invited to Malvern Retreat House's Catholic Writers' Retreat. This five-day retreat from September 29 to October 3, 2014, allows participants to immerse themselves in the presence of God on Malvern Retreat House's 125-acre ground while focusing on their writing, and learning from experienced Catholic writers.

This retreat offers daily opportunities for spiritual growth including Mass, Exposition, Benediction, and reflections about writers from the New Testament. Conferences will also be held from professional Catholic writers and editors, such as Susan Brinkmann, Matthew Pinto, Matthew Gambino, and Brian Gail.

Susan Brinkmann, O.C.D.S., author and award-winning journalist, is a member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites. She is the staff journalist for Women of Grace®, and is a frequent guest on EWTN's Women of Grace television show.

Matthew Pinto, founder and president of Ascension Press, is also the author and co-author of numerous best-selling books, including A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions About the Passion of the Christ, which became #6 on the New York Times Best-Seller List with more than a million copies sold. Additionally, Matthew's appearances on numerous television and radio programs explaining and defending the Catholic faith have earned him the Catholic Leadership Institute's 2004 Award for Outstanding Catholic Leadership.

Matthew Gambino is director and general manager of, a news website for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. His 25-year career features awards as a writer and editor, plus success in business management and sales in Catholic and secular media, both in print and online. Matt's experience in communications provides valuable insights for building successful strategies in Catholic digital media.

Brian Gail is a Knight of the Immaculate, as well as a Catholic speaker on matters of faith and family. He is a critically acclaimed author of the trilogy Fatherless, Motherless, and Childless, which has become a powerful tool for catechesis. A gifted entrepreneur and CEO, Brian provided strategic marketing counsel to elite Fortune 500 corporations and co-founded three Catholic classical academies.

To register for the Catholic Writers' Retreat, call Malvern Retreat House's Main Office at 610-644-0400, or visit us online at

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


As speakers we have a dual obligation:
to ourselves to be the best we can be,
 and to our audience to give them the
highest quality presentation we can.


Before writing a novel, develop a resume for all main characters—
describing their life history as well as appearance, style, ambitions, etc.
Most of these details will not appear in the story,
but will determine how he will act or react throughout the book.


One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right
away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book,
 give it, give it all, give it now. Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill
from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have
learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly
becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” - Annie Dillard


Notice: Send your questions to:

Q If you make simultaneous submissions to several publishers, and decide to accept an offer from one, are you obligated to contact the other publishers? Is there a difference if they are periodical publishers—rather than book publishers?

A – When it comes to simultaneous submissions, there are a number of acceptable actions or reactions you will always want to follow:

* Before submitting simultaneously to any publisher, check the market guide or their guidelines to determine if they are actually open to such submissions. Some publishers expect them—others may have an angry response and you will miss an opportunity to sell to them.
* Once you have identified those who are open, start by submitting to them one at a time.
  • After you've given each of them time to respond, you can move on to those who are open and prepare those simultaneous submissions.
  • You always let the publishers you are submitting to know that it is a simultaneous submission. As long as a publisher has indicated simultaneous submissions are acceptable, you don't risk getting a rejection by sending one.
  • Once you get your first acceptance in response to your submission, you can either accept it or wait to see if you get a better offer (such as a more prestigious publisher or higher payment).
  • When you accept an offer, you are not obligated to contact the other publishers to let them know the project has sold—but it is the responsible and ethical thing to do. In most cases you will be submitting to these same publishers in the future and you want to stay in their good graces.
  • That other possibility is that you may get more than one positive response. In that case you definitely need to let those you decide to turn down know that the piece has been sold. Thank them for their interest and assure them that you'll be getting back to them with another submission in the near future. Then see that you do. Again, you don't want to burn any bridges.
         You also asked if it makes a difference whether you are dealing with book or periodical publishers. The simple answer is—not really. The difference may come because with a book publisher you typically would be sending a book proposal first and with a periodical, it may be a query letter first—rather than the full manuscript in either situation. If that's the case with either type of publisher, it's important to let them all know when submitting, that although you are sending the proposal or query simultaneously to several publishers, you will only send the completed manuscript to one at a time. Some will even require that in their guidelines. Some will also specify the amount of time they want to consider the full manuscript before you submit it elsewhere. The bottom line in all of this is that you follow their guidelines exactly. That may mean making a few adjustments to the query, proposal, or manuscript before sending on to the next publisher on the list.


. . . for those moments when you need a kick in the pants to get you back to your writing.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear,
but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who
does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela


When I evaluate manuscripts for people, one of the most frustrating aspects of that I face is the fact that many writers will write whole books without knowing the basics of getting the material on paper. It’s frustrating for me that I have to send them back to start over, and I’m sure it’s even more frustrating for them to realize that much of their work has been in vain. Although you don’t have to take any particular instruction or earn any degrees to become a writer, I want to encourage you to learn as much as you can about the process before you take on any major projects.

It’s true that you learn a lot about writing by actually doing it, but there’s a lot to be said for knowing all there is to know about how it is done correctly. With so much competition in the marketplace, it will be to your advantage to present editors with material that reflects that know-how and professionalism.

For that reason I want to encourage you to attend conferences where you can get those basics down pretty quickly; read books on writing—both general books on how the publishing process works and books on how to write the particular type of writing you are interested in. It might be novels, devotionals, how-to books, children’s picture books, Bible studies, or poetry. There is also a number of writing courses available on tape or directly from the Internet. Many of the online sites offer a good deal of instruction for free. These days with so much help available, there’s no excuse for entering the marketplace without the basic skills necessary to impress an editor.

Monday, August 25, 2014


To improve vocal variety,
read aloud from the phone book
or a cookbook with expression.


A good agent will have a professional relationship
with most of the editors and will be considered someone
they can trust to bring them appropriate manuscripts for
their house and for the current market.


The NW Ohio Christian Writers 26th Annual Fall Seminar will be held on Saturday, October 18. Bob Hostetler, award-winning writer and speaker will be the keynote speaker. Seminar will be held at the Holland Free Methodist Church, 6605 Angola Rd., Holland OH 43528. For questions, call Linda Tippett, 419-882-3705;;; Cost before October 7th is $45 for members and $55 for non-members. Late registration or at the door, $65. Make checks payable to Northwest Ohio Christian Writers and mail to: Martha Willey, 1917 Terri Rue, Northwood OH 43619.


ECPA member titles appearing on New York Times Bestsellers List, posted this week for August 31, 2014:
  • THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman (Northfield) is #1 in Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous.
  • THE BEST YES by Lysa TerKeurst (Nelson Books/Thomas Nelson) is #4 in Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous.
  • HEAVEN IS FOR REAL by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson) is #6 in Paperback Nonfiction; #6 in Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction; and #7 in E-Book Nonfiction.
  • INSTINCT by T. D. Jakes (FaithWords) is #13 in Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous.


. . . for when you need a kick in the pants to get you back to your writing!

“Before success comes in any man's life, he's sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is quit. That's exactly what the majority of men do.” Napoleon Hill


If you are traveling alone especially, here are a few tips to help guarantee your safety while staying in a hotel or motel.

  1. Request a room close to the elevators.

  2. If the desk clerk or bellhop announces your room number where others can hear, insist on a new room assignment with the number passed on to you in writing, and silent. Never say your room number out loud in public.

  3. A hotel staff member should accompany you to the room and be sure the telephone, door lock, and balcony doors are in good working order before you unpack. I once went to my room at a hotel after checking in to find a man sitting in my room, and he refused to leave.

  4. Avoid those fumbling delays at your door by having the key card in your hand and pointed in the right direction.

  5. Most hotel room door lock automatically, but use the security chain and peephole before opening the door to anyone. If someone identifies themselves as a hotel employee (and you are not expecting one), do not allow them into the room until you check with the main desk to see if they sent this person.

  6. Never leave the “Make Up the Room” sign on your doorknob when you're away. You don't want to announce your absence.

  7. One of the first things you will want to do is memorize the fire-escape guidelines and have clearly in mind where your closest stairs and/or exits are located.

  8. Never go out to walk at night or even jog during the day without checking with the concierge to find out if it is safe to be out alone and where the safest places are to walk or jog.

  9. If staying in a motel, ask that you have a room with front-door parking to avoid a long walk across a parking lot.

  10. If renting a car, avoid long, lonely walks through tunnels or across parking lots by asking ahead of time if they provide valet parking or shuttle bus service when picking up or returning the car.


Blogging 101
imageplaceholderKrista Rea
Online Education Manager
Writers Digest University
Let a media professional show you how to set up your blog. Then, discover how to write for the web and drive traffic to your site. Blogging 101 will start you on the path to blogging success. By becoming a blogger, you'll have the ability to connect with your readers while building a platform.

In the Blogging 101 course, you'll prioritize your goals, create a list of specific audiences you are targeting, write a blog post using search engine optimization tips, create an editorial calendar, explore niche communities, and more. You'll receive feedback on weekly assignments and use four weeks of your time to launch a blog. Instructor Dan Blank will be available for questions. The class starts on August 28th and costs $199.99.

"Learning how to blog helps develop the two habits writers need most:
1. The consistent habit of writing and publishing
2. The consistent habit of connecting with readers"

  ~ Dan Blank
A recent student said, "The experience was awesome!" Learn how to brainstorm topics and research what your audience wants to read.

Set Up and Effectively Manage a Compelling Blog. Join the Blogging 101 Workshop. Class starts this Thursday!
All upcoming courses can be viewed at this link.

Thank you for being part of the writing community.
Blogging 101 Workshop
with Dan Blank
Your new blog can help you promote your book, improve your craft as a writer, build your brand, or just act as a fun escape from the daily grind.

Dan Blank has helped more than 300 professionals create and manage their blogs and use them to connect with niche communities online. As Director of Content Strategy & Development at Reed Business Information, he has worked with bloggers from more than 40 magazine brands, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and School Library Journal. Blank is recognized as an online media expert.


Sunday, August 24, 2014


 A flip chart, chalkboard or PowerPoint
should only be used in groups small enough
to be able to read the written points clearly.


When we talk about the agent getting 15%
of your income from the book, that includes
the advance, royalties, and payments for subsidiary rights.


Anytime you travel by air, there is always the fear of the airline losing your luggage. I once flew to Canada to speak at a conference, and I arrived at my destination only to find they had lost my luggage. I was at the conference for four days and didn't get my luggage back until the night before I flew home. That experience taught me two things—you need to prepare for that possibility and you can survive the experience. Here are some tips that will help you avoid that situation.

  1. Be sure your luggage is well constructed and not in danger of being torn or crushed. Some travelers prefer the newer metal suitcases.
  2. Don't depend on the little name tags that the airlines provide—which can be easily ripped off. Each bag needs to have a rugged name tag. Always include identification inside each bag as well.
  3. Never put your speaking notes, handouts, or any important documents in your checked luggage. Carry them with you.
  4. Women: Carry what you need for make-up with you on the plane. Men: Carry what you need for shaving. Plus a change of underwear and a toothbrush and paste.
  5. Travel light for short trips. A hang-up bag could be carried on board. Most hotels now have ironing boards and irons in the room, if needed. Women, when possible, plan to wear the same pants or skirt and just bring different tops. Wear the same shoes and purse.
  6. Always count how many items you are carrying by hand. If you started out with four, be sure you have four at each stop along the way, and when you're heading home.


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Mystery Revealed: How to Write and Sell Your Mystery, Suspense, or Thriller Novel for Any Market
with Andrea Somberg
Your Price: $89.99
Session Date: August 28, 2014
Starting Time: 1:00pm Eastern
Duration: 90 minutes
Price: $89.99
About the critique:

All registrants are invited to submit a query letter for critique. All submitted letters are guaranteed a written critique by literary agent Andrea Somberg. Andrea reserves the right to request more writing from attendees by e-mail following the event, if she deems the writing excellent.

Please Note: Even if you can't attend the live webinar, registering for this live version will enable you to receive the On Demand webinar and a personal critique of your material. Purchasing the On Demand version after the live event will not include a critique.
About the webinar:

Whether it's the bone chilling suspense or a psychological thriller, the twists and turns of a good cozy mystery novel, or the satisfaction of unraveling a page-turning who-done-it, mysteries and suspense novels have fascinated and entertained readers for centuries. Now it's your turn to write and publish your very own mystery, thriller, or suspense.

Learn the ins and outs of the current market and how to successfully conceptualize, construct, and sell your adult, YA or middle grade novel. Find out what publishers are truly looking for, and learn how to craft your pitch and query letter so that your book stands out from the crowd. Find out how the industry has changed in recent years - and what this means for you, your book, and your career.

Andrea Somberg has been a literary agent for over 15 years, representing a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including mysteries, thrillers, and suspense for the adult, young adult, and middle grade audiences. Each participant in the seminar will have the opportunity to have their query letter critiqued by Andrea.
What You'll Learn:

How to craft your concept, content, and pitch for maximum impact
What agents and publishers are REALLY looking for
Where your book fits into the marketplace
How to keep up with the changing industry
How to craft the perfect query letter